Malaysia: Guideline review for factories handling hazardous chemicals

MOHD FAHMI MOHD YUSOF New Straits Times 20 Jan 19;

JOHOR BARU: The government will review existing guidelines of licence applications from factories which handle hazardous chemical substances.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said the ministry will bring the matter before the Cabinet for a decision.

She said such a review was necessary to prevent the recurrence of Sungai Kim Kim toxic waste pollution.

Some 3,000 people had been hospitalised in Pasir Gudang after inhaling toxic fumes emitted from chemical waste dumped into the river on March 7.

The pollution forced the closure of 111 schools until the school break. Police have since arrested 11 individuals over the incident.

"The ministry will have a meeting with local councils and the Department of Environment (DoE) to improve the operation and monitoring of factories that use and dispose off chemical wastes.

"It (bringing the outcome to the Cabinet level) will be the next step and it is something that we will make a decision on and set up guidelines," said Zuraida.

She was speaking to reporters after visiting the medic base at the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council (MPPG) Indoor Stadium here.

Also present were Fire and Rescue Department (JBPM) director general Datuk Mohammad Hamdan Wahid and Johor JBPM director Datuk Yahaya Madis.

Meanwhile, Zuraida said MPPG and DoE had been instructed to inspect and monitor all 250 factories that use chemical substances in the Pasir Gudang area to prevent the recurrence of the pollution incident.

"The operational effectiveness of the machines and equipment used by these factories need to be monitored because there may be a period when the machines and equipment may not operate properly and or there may be a leak that could cause the waste to be discharged to the rivers," said Zuraida.

She said the Sungai Kim Kim operation which began on March 7, saw a total of 153 Fire and Rescue Department personnel, including 70 members from the Hazardous Material Unit (Hazmat) nationwide, involved in operations.

Ministry to beef up chemical waste guidelines
The Star 21 Mar 19;

PASIR GUDANG: The Housing and Local Government Ministry will strengthen guidelines on the issuance of licences to factories, especially those involved in the handling of chemicals, says Zuraida Kamar­uddin.

Its minister said the ministry would place priority on seeing the matter through as it involved public safety.

Zuraida said it was also a good opportunity to reinforce the monitoring operation of usage and disposal of scheduled chemical waste.

“The first thing is to bolster our enforcement as we are responsible for the local government, which has the power to issue licences to factories involved in chemical processing.

“The disposal of such materials should be monitored.

“Although the licence-issuing is done by the local authorities, the Department of Environment (DOE) should also make sure that the factories adhere to environmental laws,” she told reporters after visiting the medical base that closed operations at Pasir Gudang Indoor Stad­ium yesterday.

In order to implement the matter, a meeting involving the local auth­ority and the DOE would be held, Zuraida added.

“We will ensure a coordination meeting between the local government, the DOE and all agencies involved in approving and granting factory operating licences so that the Sungai Kim Kim incident will not be repeated,” she said.

She also said 153 fire personnel from all over the country had been involved in the Sungai Kim Kim operation since March 7, including 70 Hazmat Unit personnel who specialised in handling chemicals.

“I would like to congratulate all the parties involved in this operation for their efforts in monitoring the situation, which we managed to bring under control within two weeks.

“As for the victims, there are two patients still receiving treatment in intensive care, while eight others are in the normal ward,” Zuraida said.

The Sungai Kim Kim medical base was officially closed at 12.30pm yesterday.

Stiffer penalties for polluters
The Star 20 Mar 19;

STIFFER penalties await environmental polluters once the Environmental Quality Act 1974 is amended, says Deputy Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis.

“Yes, we are proposing to amend the Act.

“We are looking at ways to make it more comprehensive and with stricter enforcement to reduce environmental pollution,” she said when responding to a supplementary question raised by Larry Sng Wei Shien (PH-Julau) in Dewan Rakyat.

Sng had asked if there were plans to amend Section 34B of the Act which presently carries a maximum jail sentence of five years and a maximum fine of RM500,000 upon conviction.

Isnaraissah Munirah also told the Dewan Rakyat that the toxic waste collected from Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang would not be transferred to Negri Sembilan.

She said the government would ensure no other place experienced the Pasir Gudang incident.

“We are already facing the incident in Pasir Gudang and have no intention to transfer it to Negri Sembilan,” she said, replying to Cha Kee Chin’s (PH-Rasah) concern over Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian’s statement that toxic waste cleared from Sungai Kim Kim would be transferred to Negri Sembilan.

“If Johor does not want the toxic waste, Negri Sembilan does not want it either.

“I have asked the ministry to clarify if the statement by the Johor MB is true.

“If it is true, it would be unfair to Negri Sembilan as we do not want to become victims,” Cha said.

Osman was reported on Sunday as saying that the incinerated remains of the toxic waste would be sent to the Kualiti Alam Hazardous Waste Management Facility in Bukit Pelanduk, Seremban.